Drinking a few cups of coffee a day may lower the risk of advanced colon cancer, at least for women, Japanese researchers said on Wednesday.
The study, supported by Japan's health ministry, showed women who drink more than three cups of coffee a day were 56 percent less likely to develop advanced colon cancer than those who drink no coffee at all.
"Drinking coffee sustains the secretion of bile acid and keeps down cholesterol levels, the mechanisms thought to prevent colon cancer," the report said.
But unfortunately the effect was not seen in men, the medical research team said.
Many men smoke and drink alcohol more than women, and those habits probably offset the effect of coffee, the study said.
The research team tracked down about 96,000 people in Japan aged from 40 to 69 between the early 1990s and 2002, of whom 726 men and 437 women later suffered colon cancer.
Other factors thought to have links to the risk of developing colon cancer include a person's age and whether they exercise and eat a lot of vegetables.